Kendallville's Forgiven has been knocking around for a good long time, honing their skills to a razor-like precision. Their debut album, 2002's Main to Mitchell, was a slab of pure 80s hair band nirvana that brought many smiles to those with ears to hear. Since that time, Forgiven has shed the nostalgia, improved their songwriting chops and cleaned up their recording process. The result is Solafide, yet another local gem.
The band lets you know right away that this is a more modern album by unleashing crisp but grinding guitars in "Who I Am," a dark and heavy mid-tempo song that makes the most of the contrast between the down-tuned guitars and Ryan Ransburg's clean, capable vocals. "Without You" incorporates an inventive drum pattern by Paul Osborn and lightly flanged guitar that builds to a satisfying roar in the chorus, while "Killing Floor" pumps up the tempo a bit with a guitar rhythm so tight you'll surely find your foot moving. In "Given" the band focuses on growing closer to Christ every day and longing to be in His presence, contrasting acoustic guitar with twisty distorted rhythms in the verse and chorus.
With "Torn" the band gets a bit experimental by tossing the vocals back and forth in the stereo field before descending into a pleasing instrumental romp that provides ample room for yet another excellent solo by lead guitarist Nate "Big Daddy" Mosley. All the stops are pulled out for "I Will Follow," a sizzling rocker with a hint of 90s alternative and lyrics such as "I have no regrets because I know the story's end." "Romans" is the bands MySpace "single" and it's easy to see why. Not only is Stu Way's bass allowed to lead the subtle groove but the fuzzed vocals and Soundgarden-esque influence combine to create a passionate song of longing to be freed from the pains of this world. Forgiven throws an almost industrial sound into the mix on "Final Destination" with an angular guitar pattern over solid drumming, drumming that is only topped by the expansive, stuttering beat of the final track, "Over and Over."
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